Free spring COVID booster now available in B.C.; mask mandate dropped in health-care facilities

Free spring COVID booster now available in B.C.; mask mandate dropped in health-care facilities
COVID-19 vaccine vials are shown at a pharmacy in Toronto on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

Spring COVID booster shots are now available in B.C. for anyone six months and older, and the mask mandate in health-care facilities is being dropped.

The booster shot is available to anyone feels they would benefit from an additional dose of the vaccine, but the B.C. government is targeting the shots to those with the highest risk of severe illness or anyone who has not yet received an updated vaccine.

This includes, adults 65 years and older, Indigenous adults 55 years and older, adult residents of long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities, and anyone six months and older who is designated as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Those being targeted will receive an invitation to book from the B.C. government, anyone else should reach out to the call centre at 1 833 838-2323 to book an appointment or walk into a pharmacy where the vaccine is available.

The invitations started to be sent out on April 8.

The Ministry of Health notes that protection from the COVID vaccines decreases over time, so a booster helps to ensure protection from the virus.

The B.C. government estimates that 3.9 million people in B.C. have not received a COVID-19 XBB.1.5 vaccine.

The vaccine is available at pharmacies, health authority clinics, some primary care offices and community health centres.

Mask mandate dropped, but still encouraged

The B.C. government says there is a decreased rate of infections, so the mask mandate implemented for health-care facilities in fall 2023 is being dropped.

“People are still encouraged to wear masks in health-care settings as appropriate, to continue to cover coughs and stay away from others when feeling sick,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement. “Health-care workers will continue to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as masks and respirators, in accordance with their point-of-care risk assessments.”

READ PREVIOUS: Masks mandatory in all health-care settings, pharmacists prepare for fall immunization

According to the latest COVID situation report for the week of March 24-30, there were 290 cases of COVID-19 in B.C., of those 63 were in Island Health.

Sixteen people died with COVID in the province, one of whom was in Island Health. There were 76 hospital admissions and 17 critical care admissions, in Island Health there were 11 and two respectively.

In B.C., polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are the only COVID-19 tests that are recorded. Only people who are at risk of more severe disease and may benefit from treatment, hospitalized or pregnant qualify to have a PCR test.

Rapid antigen tests are available at pharmacies for free, however, there is nowhere to report results of an at-home test.

READ PREVIOUS: BC CDC’s COVID rapid test self-reporting tool no longer available

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!